SOPA: Web Giants Oppose 'Web Censorship Bill'
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act): Internet Blacklist Debated in US House
SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) is the sweeping internet censorship bill that US Congress does not want you to know about. In fact, no opponents to the bill were allowed at the SOPA hearing.
SOPA purports to protect content creators (i.e. the MPAA and the RIAA) from "rogue offshore sites" that thrive on stolen content, but the bill leaves the door open for attacks on homegrown companies as well. SOPA has gotten mainstream attention, and is likely responsible for the Electronic Frontier Foundation getting overloaded with traffic.
Movie studios and major labels want governments around the world to prop up business models which ignore the reality of file-sharing and streaming media. SOPA is not their first attempt: look at internet legislation enacted in France (HADOPI was found unconstitutional but later revised) and New Zealand.
Of course, the biggest web companies in the world are opposed to this, as their own business models are threatened.
- Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian is preparing to testify before Congress to oppose PROTECT IP/SOPA, and asked the Reddit community for a few talking points.
Companies such as Google, Facebook, Zynga, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more have signed a full-page ad in the New York Times opposing SOPA.
SOPA (called the PROTECT IP act in the Senate) would eliminate the DMCA's safe harbor provision and require ISPs to act as copyright cops. US law enforcement bodies would be empowered to cut off payments and even internet access websites accused (not convicted) of hosting infringing content. This would, of course, disrupt the global internet industry.
How Does SOPA Affect You?
All of your activity online would be actively policed by your internet service provider under SOPA. Sites you use every day (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, etc) would be under constant threat of shutdown, and URLs deemed infringing would be removed from the web. "Censorship" is an overused term online but fits SOPA perfectly.
Aside from the obvious civil-liberties issues at stake here, this puts an unrealistically heavy burden on ISPs in terms of data-collection, storage, and logging. Meanwhile, MPAA member companies are enjoying record profits... for the fifth straight year. Clearly piracy can't be hurting them that much.
I'm forced to wonder: are US representatives that clueless about how the internet works, or are the MPAA and RIAA just that powerful in Washington?
As for SOPA's opponents, don't think that Google, Zynga, Facebook and the others care about your online rights as much as they care about their own business plans. In Washington, though, that makes them more dangerous opponents: they're fighting a threat against themselves, not a threat against their users.
If you think SOPA is as stupid as I do, call your Congressional representative and let 'em know.